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John Maxwell wrote a great article on how Leaders fall into these three categories:

1) Takers

Takers receive and never give. They are the people in life who have a me-first mentality. They try to extract as much as they can from the relationships in their lives, and they rarely, if ever, consider giving back.

2) Traders

Traders receive and then give. Traders will only send you a Christmas card, if you’ve mailed one to them. They picture relationships as an equation in need of balance. If someone helps them, they feel a debt of gratitude. If they aid another person, they expect a favor in return.

3) Investors

Investors give and then receive. These are the people who give purely for the joy of giving. They add value to others, not as part of a cold calculation, but as a habit. Although doing so may not earn them an instant return, in the long run they reap the gratitude and goodwill of those they have helped.

Which type of leader are you?  If you are a true leader, in my opinion, you need to be an investor?  Investors don’t need the instant gratification that others do.  It is not about them.


There are lots of habits out there that are addicting and I believe email can sabotage productivity almost as much as other ones.

I found a great article at the site What’s Best Next by Matt Perman about why you shouldn’t check your email continually.

In it he compares email to taking out the trash continually.  If we did that how productive would or day really be?

If you are checking your email continually throughout the day.  You are basically multitasking the whole day.  And we all know by now how ineffective we are when we multitask.

Did you know when you switch tasks it takes you at least 15 minutes to get back on task?  How many times do you check your email?

Let’s say you check your email at the minimum 8 times.  That is basically 2 hours you are wasting.  How unproductive your day must be because we know it takes at least 15-30 minutes on any task to get “into the zone” of productivity.  So basically if you are checking email that much you are not getting the most out of everyday.  You are spending half your day either checking email, thinking about email, or trying to get back on task.

So instead of leaving your email program up. Do the following

Don’t Be an Email Addict
Make your email work for you on your time.  Schedule times throughout the day when you are going to check it.  At the most 4 times

Train Your Contacts
Let everyone know what time you check your email so there is not unrealistic expectations placed on you.  For that matter, email your whole list and let them know you are now only checking your email at certain times of the day, and tell them the times.

Set out chunks of time for your big tasks.  Especially right away in the morning.  Accomplish your biggest task right away and the rest of the day will be a breeze.  Don’t pollute the big ideas with small ones that come through email.

Take your email by the horns and don’t let it enslave you.  There are only so many minutes in a day.  Don’t waste them checking and rechecking your email.

Great article on How to Express Yourself as a Leader by George Ambler at the Practice of Leadership Blog .

You need to personalize it and be authentic.  Don’t give book mumbo jumbo.  Make it your own.  Be able to express it in your own way

Many people go out of their way to try to be a great leader but they have no idea why.  They really don’t like people, all their leadership ideas are straight out of books, and they don’t know how to connect with people.

Why can’t you be more genuine as a leader?  Why can’t you take some time to think through some things and make them your own?

People do not like to follow robots.  People like to follow genuine people whose whole mind and soul goes into leading and making everyone around them better.  People want to be able to relate to their leaders and have a relationship to know they are real.

Who wants to follow a copycat?  Who wants to be a copycat?  Be someone so unique that others around you want to follow you because you are REAL.

No seriously, do it for a week.

Here are your Five Selfish Rules for the Week:

  1. Try get as much information out of everyone you know about themselves and how they think.  Try to find out everything they know about anything and everything.
  2. Don’t give them any knowledge that you have obtained throughout the years.
  3. Keep your mouth shut and don’t volunteer any information.  Why would you?  You just want to be the best you can be and don’t care about anyone else getting better.
  4. Only give advice or input when directly asked.  But responses can only be 30 words or less and must end with a question for the other person.

What would happen if we lived our life like that?  Would people view us as selfish?I actually think we would be viewed as quite the opposite.  We would be viewed as caring and selfless.  People would think we always put our own interests in front of our own.

If we wouldn’t be so busy self promoting ourselves by telling everyone how much we know and where we had learned it.  We could learn so much more.

P.S. Sorry about the first paragraph of facetiousness.  I was just trying to get my point across on how we would never be viewed as selfish if we were constantly asking others questions.

This is one of those things that still baffles me today.  We can sound so nice to people on the phone but people right in front of you get the left overs.  We will answer and talk on the phone in a whole different nicey, nice tone.  But Jane Doe in front of us gets the normal annoyed tone with the I don’t care body language.

Why is it that in business if there is a customer standing right in front of you waiting to give you money for a product we treat them awful.  We hear the phone ring, drop everything, including that customer, to talk to someone on the phone who probably isn’t going to buy anything anyway.  In a world where talk is cheap and actions say a thousand words what would it mean if the phone rang and you stayed focused on that customer in front of you.  The customer would say “Aren’t you going to get that?”  You would then reply “No, that can wait, I am helping you right now.  You came into the store and you deserve my attention and respect at this moment.”

WOW, what would that customer say?  Would they tell their friends?  I think they would tell their whole neighborhood.  Live in the moment and stay engaged with the people right in front of you.  Quit thinking your time is more important.

Lastly, don’t they always tell you to smile when talking on the phone because it makes you sound better?  Why don’t we just smile all the time?  Then we wouldn’t have to worry about sounding different on the phone and in person.  Instead we would be beaming with positivity to everyone around us on a daily basis.  People are attracted to those who smile.  So keep smiling and see what happens.

Steve Roesler at All Things Workplace had some great thoughts on discussion or dialogue .

In the blog he discussed and had a great illustration between dialogue and discussion.  I love having dialogue about things.  It is one of the most pleasant experiences.  People aren’t worried about feelings or offending anyone.  Ideas flow freely and ideas that otherwise wouldn’t have come up in just discussion come out as all ideas are brought together.

Discussion is also a good thing in the right context.  If you need to make a decision quick you need to have discussion about the problem to get to the solution quickly.

My question always is how do I get my business to go from discussion to dialogue?  Here are a few steps.

  1. Stop Looking at Your Feet: So many of our businesses are run fighting fires as they come and never really taking the time to look ahead.
  2. Drop Your Pant: I don’t really mean drop your trousers.  I mean in conversations with others show who you are and don’t hide it.  Quit getting so defensive and be open with ideas and feelings.
  3. enVISION it: You and you’re people don’t know where you are going or where to start with out a clear vision of what you are about and what the end goal is.
  4. Plan and Plan Some More: Sit down with groups and discuss issues and then make concrete plans based on your vision.
  5. There is NEVER a Bad Idea: When people come into these meetings do not stifle them by telling them that there idea is worthless.  Take the ideas and funnel them.  That will separate the good from the bad.

These are just a few of what could be many.  How are you going to move your business from the immediate needs of discussion to the powerful future of discussion?

Yesterday I focused on thoughts and although that is the first step in changing your character words are no less important.  Many times we try to just change our words without changing our thoughts.  That is like putting some nice paint and new tires on an old car.  Although it looks great on the outside, the inside is still the same.

Why do we always just think our words don’t mean a whole lot?  In Bible Times words meant everything.  If you said you were going to do something that was your contract.  You didn’t need to sign a contract, partly because they didn’t have paper.  Now days we will say anything and not think about the consequences because the only way we keep our word is if there is proof or a contract.  How sad is that?

Here are my 4 ways to Choose Your Words Carefully:

  1. Remove Yourself From The Situation: Don’t just speak based on emotions.  Take a step back look at the other persons point of view, take the emotion out, and then speak.
  2. Ask Yourself a Question: Before saying anything.  Ask yourself “Is what I am saying worth saying to the other person?”  You will find that half of the time it is not.
  3. Write a Mental Contract: When saying you will do something envision yourself writing a mental contract.  If you have to write a physical contract on a piece of paper and hang it up.
  4. Be Positive: There is enough negativity around us.  Stop going with the flow and change somebodies day.

If you can do what you say you are going to do.  You will be better than half of the people in the world.  Be a person of your word and watch the respect level go up for you.  If you say you are going to be a place at a certain time.  Be there 5 minutes early.  If you say you are going to bring someone a snack.  Bring them two.  Don’t just be ordinary when you say you are going to do something.  Knock them off their chair with surprise when you do what you say you are going to do and more.

How many of us really work hard on our thoughts?  How many of us get up every morning and say ‘My goal for today is to make sure my thoughts are pure’?  Should we?

Thoughts are one of those things that people never really talk about and never really think are a big deal.  I am beginning to think otherwise.  I found this quote the other day and I know Tony Dungy and Zig Ziglar have also said similar things.

“The thought manifests as the word, the word manifests as the deed, the deep develops into a habit; and habit hardens into character.”

So basically your thoughts end up being your character.  Wow, that is scary when I think about what my thoughts are sometimes.  So how do you keep your thoughts positive?

Here are my 5 steps to positive thinking:

  1. Wake up on Time: This is one of the ways that I know affects my thought life.  When I get up on time and am not rushed my thoughts stay more positive.
  2. Start Your Day Right: Read something positive that gets you focused for the day.  I try to read and pray in the morning.  This helps me to relax and get in the right frame of mind for the day.
  3. Encourage Others: Try to catch people doing something right instead of something wrong.  If you are focused more in finding right than finding fault that is where your thoughts will go.
  4. Watch what Goes in: Don’t just listen to anything and watch anything.  If you listen to trash and watch trash, that is exactly what will come out.  Be very careful what you listen to and see.
  5. Don’t Watch the News Before Bed: Over half of Americans do this.  The news isn’t what it used to be.  Most of the things on the news are negative things.  No wonder we are such a negative culture.  And whatever you do before bed repeats over and over in your head.  So instead read something positive or listen to some good relaxing music.

Be your own filter on the outside so your mind doesn’t have to do as much work on the inside.

Why don’t we try to create partnerships and ideas that mutually benefit both parties? Why are we so intent to win at all costs? Is it our competitive nature or is it because we don’t know what it means for both people to win?

Are you living with the abundance mentality where there is enough for all of us if we work together? Or are you working with the scarcity mentality where there is only so much and as a result I am going to take as much as I can however I can?

Don’t get me wrong competition is great and brings out the best in both parties. But when you focus so much on beating the other person it impairs your vision. Focus on what you do best and the rest will take care of itself.

Now days word of mouth is more important than ever. If you are going to keep a positive image with other businesses around the abundance philosophy is the way to go.

How do you cultivate the abundance mentality?

1. Work with other businesses around you: Run promos, advertisement, and offer referrals for others.

2. Congratulate other Successes: Instead of being green with envy. Congratulate the successes of the other businesses around you. Send them food or flowers to congratulate them on their achievements.

3. Quit worrying about how you look: Stop focusing on just helping yourself. Look to others. By helping others you make yourself look better.

4. Talk to other people: Have lunch with a few different people you wouldn’t ordinarily have lunch with. Get to know them and how they tick. Ask questions to find out how they find success.

Do you think everyone out there is out to get you so you must fight back? Or do you look for mutually beneficial situations?

Great article that has to do with the abundance mentality is found here:

Desperation is not Referable at

Dr. Peter Vajda wrote a great post on Steve Roesler’s All things workplace blog on being right.

It was a great reminder on how we usually approach problems and solutions.  We need to be right so much of the time because we think we have the best ideas and we will do whatever it takes to win.  We attach our ideas to our ego and if someone attacks our idea it is personal.  In turn we get personal right back and attack their idea and then no one wins.

Why does their always have to be a winner or a loser?  Has winning and losing been so ingrained in us from a young age that is all we know?

I have found that it is better as a leader if you are not always right.  People don’t like being around others who are always right (or who think they are always right.)  If you are always right your team does not even want to bother to think because it is never their idea.

How do you not be right all the time:

  1. Ask lots of questions:  Even if you know the answer ask the questions so others can come up with the answers.
  2. Make the Idea their Own:  People don’t want to run with others ideas.  Make it so they had the right idea.
  3. Allow for silence:  Some of the best ideas are from those who rarely talk.  The longer you allow for silence the greater the idea might be.
  4. Stop Taking Credit:  Better than that.  Never take credit for anything!!!  It will make more people want to be on your team if you aren’t getting all the glory.